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E. coli Blog

Surveillance & Analysis on E. coli News & Outbreaks

Minnesota E. coli O111 Outbreak Possibly Linked to “widely distributed food item”

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is investigating 13 cases of foodborne illness associated with a type of E. colibacteria known as E. coli O111. This form of E. coli is in the same family as the more well-known E. coli O157:H7. All of the illnesses were caused by the same genetic strain of E. coli O111, and the ill people do not all share any obvious commonalities; these facts indicate the illnesses resulted from a widely distributed food item.

While seven of the people with E. coli O111 infections reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota between June 24 and 27, there are multiple cases with no apparent connection to the restaurant. Applebee’s is cooperating fully with the investigation, and as a precaution volunteered to remove the Oriental Chicken salad from menus at all its Minnesota restaurants while the investigation continues. The restaurant is also removing specific ingredients of its Oriental Chicken salad from other items on its menu out of an abundance of caution. Health officials are still working with Applebee’s, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and other regulatory partners to determine the cause of the outbreak.

Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli O111 typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever. People usually become ill two to five days after exposure, but this time period can range from one to at least eight days. Most people recover in five to 10 days. Complications from infection are more common among those with weaker immune systems, including young children and the elderly. MDH investigators note that this genetic strain of E. coli O111 has not been seen in the United States previously.

Health officials say anyone who visited a Minnesota Applebee’s since June 20 and has symptoms of E. coli O111 infection (particularly bloody diarrhea) should contact their health care provider immediately and inform them of their possible involvement in this outbreak. MDH also asks that they contact the department’s foodborne illness hotline at 1-877-FOOD-ILL (1-877-366-3455) to report the potential connection.

Four of the 13 people who became ill were hospitalized, and all have recovered or are recovering. Diarrhea associated withE. coli O111 infection should NOT be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote further complications. More information on E. coli infection can be found at www.health.state.mn.us. MDH will share more information with the public as the investigation continues.

Undercooked Burger Link to 22 with E. coli from Big Grill

Published by the Public Health Protection Unit of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the report said that 19 of the cases ate beef burgers at the Big Grill  at SSE Hydro between 17 and 19 January, 2013. The remaining three individuals, all female, were “household contacts of these primary cases.”

The report said that the investigation uncovered evidence “strongly suggesting the possibility of processing errors leading to undercooking as well as the potential for cross contamination in the preparation and serving of the beef burger products.

The report also found that in the preparation of the burgers the searing of the meat was uneven, with some appearing to be well-seared while others “were barely seared with pink raw meat visible on the surface of the burger.”

Inspectors observed inadequacy of temperature monitoring records and weaknesses in temperature monitoring of food to test how cooked items were by staff.

It was also discovered there was “an inappropriate cleaning and disinfection regime, and an absence of documented evidence of a hazard analysis” at the venue.

Evergreen Fresh Sprouts Link in E. coli Outbreak

As of June 27, 2014, a total of 18 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) have been reported from five states.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (2), Utah (1), and Washington (11).

44% of ill persons have been hospitalized. No ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiology and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho are the likely source of this outbreak.

The FDA conducted an inspection of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts’ facility on May 22-23, 2014; May 27-30, 2014; and June 6, 2014. During the inspection, FDA investigators observed a number of unsanitary conditions, including condensate and irrigation water dripping from rusty valves; a rusty and corroded mung bean room watering system; tennis rackets that had scratches, chips, and frayed plastic” used to scoop mung bean sprouts; a pitchfork with corroded metal being used to transfer mung bean sprouts; and a squeegee with visible corroded metal and non-treated wood being used to agitate mung bean sprouts inside a soak vat.

E. coli Outbreak Hits 12

A total of 12 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from 4 states. The number of ill persons reported from each state was as follows: Massachusetts (1), Michigan (5), Missouri (1), and Ohio (5).  58% of ill persons were hospitalized. No ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Company was the likely source of this outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections.

On May 19, 2014, Wolverine Packing Company recalled approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with STEC O157:H7.  The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B.”  The recalled ground beef was shipped to distributors for retail and restaurant use nationwide. There was no distribution of the products to the U.S. Department of Defense, the National School Lunch Program, or catalog/internet sales.  The recalled ground beef was also distributed to a limited number of retail establishments for consumer purchase.  Read the full list of products that were recalled.

Sprouts from Idaho Link in 5 State E. coli Outbreak in Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Utah and Washington

Epidemiology and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho are the likely source of this outbreak.  In interviews, 12 (86%) of 14 ill persons reported eating raw clover sprouts in the week before becoming ill.

As of June 9, 2014, a total of 17 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) have been reported from five states.  The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows:  Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (2), Utah (1), and Washington (10).  47% of ill persons have been hospitalized. No ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.

The FDA conducted an inspection of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts’ facility on May 22-23, 2014; May 27-30, 2014; and June 6, 2014. During the inspection, FDA investigators observed a number of unsanitary conditions, including condensate and irrigation water dripping from rusty valves; a rusty and corroded mung bean room watering system; tennis rackets that had scratches, chips, and frayed plastic” used to scoop mung bean sprouts; a pitchfork with corroded metal being used to transfer mung bean sprouts; and a squeegee with visible corroded metal and non-treated wood being used to agitate mung bean sprouts inside a soak vat.

Raw clover sprouts have not been recalled from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts. Because contaminated sprouts may still be available on the market, CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.  The Washington State Department of Health and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are also advising people not to eat raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.

12 States Report E. coli Tainted Meat from Wolverine Packing Co.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says stores in at least 12 states may have received beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The service announced this week that 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products were being recalled because they could be contaminated. The federal agency has since named businesses that may have received the tainted products.

They include:

• Gordon Food Service Marketplace stores in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin

• Giorgio’s Italian Delicatessen in Stuart, Florida

• Blairsville Seafood Market in Blairsville, Georgia

• M Sixty Six General Store in Orleans, Michigan

• Bronson’s Super Valu in Beulah, North Dakota

• Jason’s Super Foods in New Town, North Dakota

• Buchtel Food Mart in Buchtel, Ohio

• Quick Stop in Erwin, Tennessee

• Virginia Market in Maynardville, Tennessee

• Barger Foods in Nashville, Tennessee

• Virginia Heights Travel Store in Wytheville, Virginia

A representative for the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the meat is being removed from store shelves. But consumers should return or throw out meat that has the code EST.2574B and a production date between March 31 and April 18, 2014.

The ground beef is sold under a variety of labels, according to the USDA, but comes from Wolverine Packing Co. in Detroit.

Eleven people across four states are suspected to have been sickened by the product, according to the USDA, which learned about the first such illnesses on May 8. Ten of those people were sickened after eating at restaurants that received contaminated meat.

Washington and Idaho E. coli O121 Outbreak Linked to Evergreen Fresh Sprouts

As of May 21, 2014, seven confirmed and three probable cases of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) infection have been reported in Idaho and Washington.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Idaho (3) and Washington (7).

Fifty percent of ill persons have been hospitalized. No ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.

Results from initial state and local epidemiologic investigations indicate a link to eating raw clover sprouts.

In interviews, nine (90%) of ten ill persons reported eating raw clover sprouts in the week before becoming ill.

Preliminary traceback investigations indicate that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho is the likely source of this outbreak of STEC O121 infections.

The Washington State Department of Health and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are advising people not to eat raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.

This investigation is active and ongoing and CDC will update the public when more information becomes available.

E. coli Watch in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio

As of May 16, 2014, a total of 11 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (STEC O157:H7) have been reported from 4 states.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Massachusetts (1), Michigan (5), Missouri (1), and Ohio (4).

60% of ill persons have been hospitalized. No ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that contaminated ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Company is the likely source of this outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections.

On May 19, 2014, Wolverine Packing Company voluntarily recalled approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with STEC O157:H7.

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “2574B.”

The recalled ground beef was shipped to distributors for retail and restaurant use nationwide.

Ground Beef Recalled from Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio after Eleven Sickened by E. coli

Wolverine Packing Company, a Detroit, Mich. establishment, is recalling approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The ground beef products were produced between March 31, 2014 and April 18, 2014. For a full list of products that were recalled please see the attached document.

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B” and will have a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14”. These products were shipped to distributors for restaurant use in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. There was no distribution of the products to the Department of Defense, the National School Lunch Program, or catalog/internet sales.

Factors that can contribute to the size of the recall include potential contamination of additional products due to a lack of microbiological independence between lot production, as well as a deficiency in supportive record-keeping by distributors.

FSIS was notified of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on May 12, 2014. Working in conjunction with public health partners from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined that there is a link between the ground beef products from Wolverine Packing Company and this illness cluster. Based on epidemiological and traceback investigations, 11 case-patients have been identified in 4 states with illness onset dates ranging from April 22, 2014 to May 2, 2014. FSIS continues to work with our state and federal public health partners on this investigation and provide updated information as it becomes available.

Raw Milk Strikes Again

Two cases of E. coli 0157:H7 in West Michigan have been traced back to consumption of raw milk products from an Ottawa County cow share program. In March, a 31 year old Muskegon County woman became ill after drinking raw milk, and in April, a 6 year old child from Kent County became ill after possible consumption of the raw milk product.

Organisms that make people sick are found in the intestines of animals. Contamination of milk occurs when fecal matter is present on the udder of an animal or in the equipment used to process the milk. Enough bacteria to cause illness can be present and not be visibly dirty upon inspection. Pasteurizing is the process of heating the milk to high temperatures to kill the harmful bacteria that make you sick. Raw or unpasteurized milk (sometimes called fresh milk or fresh unprocessed milk) is milk that comes directly from a cow, goat, sheep or other animal’s udder and is not heat treated (pasteurized) to kill bacteria. Raw milk carries a much higher risk of causing serious illness than pasteurized milk, and you cannot see or smell the germs in raw milk that make you sick.

Some believe drinking raw milk products is more nutritious and provides the body with “good bacteria”. The pasteurizing process does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk, and due to the risk of serious illness, there are far safer sources of good bacteria than raw milk. Pasteurized probiotic yogurts, kefir, and other products are a great source of probiotics.

The CDC reports that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness, and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products. Due to poorly developed immune systems, infants and children are at greater risk for becoming sick and are more likely to suffer from long term damage from diseases linked to drinking raw milk.

Due to the health risk of consuming raw milk, it is not legal to sell raw milk or raw milk products in the State of Michigan. Because of this, raw milk is obtained through herd share programs. In a herd share program, consumers purchase a share of a cow and, as the owner of the cow, are provided raw milk from the farmer.

These herd share dairy programs are not licensed or inspected by state or local agencies.

If you or someone you know has become ill in the days following consumption of a raw milk product, seek medical attention. Symptoms of illness include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain along with fever, headache, and body ache. Pregnant women, infants, small children, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses should never consume raw milk products.